Comic Jon Lovitz loves to chat — about anything
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Derek Paiva
Jon Lovitz was getting over what sounded like a way nasty cold, but he really wanted to chat. A lot.
On the phone from L.A., he talked, among other things, about looking for a home here after his Blaisdell Concert Hall stand-up gig on Saturday ("I want to retire there; I wish I could just live there now"), about whether his retirement would come soon ("the way things are going, no"), and opening comic Jo Koy ("he'll be on 'The Tonight Show' three nights later, so you'll get to see him before he explodes nationally").
With 48 hours left in 2005, maybe Lovitz simply wanted to get psyched for a New Year's Eve party at the Playboy mansion, and talking for an hour was just warmup. Turns out the amiable, inquisitive and self-deprecating Lovitz is a regular at the House of Hefner.
So, about those Playboy mansion parties, Jon. Are they everything mere mortal men would expect them to be or waaaaaay overrated?
"Well, they're pretty amazing. ... There's tons of food. There are beautiful women. Most of them are half naked, and it's great. I brought a friend to the Midsummer Night's Dream party. And after two hours he said, 'I have to leave.' And I asked, 'Why?' And he was, like, 'It's just too much.' He literally had to leave. He couldn't handle it. It's not like a big sex orgy or anything ... unfortunately. I think it was more like that in the '70s. But it's a lot of fun. The grounds are beautiful. And Hugh Hefner is the nicest guy in the whole world."
You're a single guy and an actor. Is it, like, hook-up heaven there?
(Laughs hard) "Well, not for me! ... But I don't really try. ... Personally, I'd rather meet some nice girl in Hawai'i. The girls in Hawai'i are beautiful. ... Why don't you introduce me to some?"
Call me when you get here, Jon. We'll hang. For now, let's talk about your stand-up style.
"Well, I don't do anything from my movies or 'Saturday Night Live.' It's all new material for stand-up. It's me being myself, being funny and silly. I make fun of myself, the Democrats, the Republicans, the war. It's my opinion on women, my sex life, my lack of a sex life, everything. It's kind of ... an adult show. A complete freedom of expression. ... I play the piano and sing songs, too. ...
"I started doing (stand up) a couple of years ago really out of necessity. I got to do four movies in 2005 ('The Producers' and upcoming flicks 'The Benchwarmers,' 'Southland Tales' and 'I Could Never Be Your Woman'). But (in 2003) the movie jobs were slowing down. (Stand-up) was something I had always wanted to do, but I was too afraid and didn't know how to come up with all the material.
"So I started doing these small jobs where Kevin Nealon, Victoria Jackson, Norm Macdonald — guys from 'Saturday Night Live' — and I would just host (comedy shows). One day I was asked to do five minutes (of stand-up) and then introduce (the acts). The next show it was 10 minutes. ... Somehow, I was able to grasp onto it pretty quick."
What's your favorite memory from your five years on "Saturday Night Live"?
"Well, Phil Hartman was like my brother. So when he came on the show, it was great. ... Phil was like the king of The Groundlings (the famed Los Angeles-based improv comedy troupe Lovitz and Hartman were in before SNL). He was nine years older than me, and I really looked up to him. And (having him) on the show was like having one of your best friends on with you. It was just terrific.
"We both loved old movies. ... We did this one sketch ... where I play a studio boss and he's a B-movie actor, and that was probably the most fun. Just to be able to do something that was tailor-made for both of us was a blast. ... And he was a genius. ... I look like me no matter what I do to my face. But Phil could change his face without any makeup. And he was self-deprecating about it. He was, like, 'Oh, yeah, it's because I'm Mr. Potato Head, right?' ... I adored Phil. When he was killed, it was a huge loss in my life. We wanted to do this; we wanted to do that. So it was very difficult."
Are you allowed to divulge anything about "Southland Tales," the very secretive first post-"Donnie Darko" film project for director Richard Kelly?
"It'll make sense when you see it. But when we were on the set, it was, like, 'What is this about?' I asked (Kelly) what he wanted me to say when people asked what the movie was about. He said, 'Tell 'em it's about the end of the world!'
"He cast stars like Dwayne ('The Rock') Johnson, Seann William Scott and Sarah Michelle Gellar as the main three people in it (and) a lot of comedic actors to play serious roles. There's a lot of people from 'Saturday Night Live': Nora Dunn, Cheri Oteri, me. There's Kevin Smith, the director. There's Justin Timberlake. A really strange cast.
"I play this totally psychotic policeman. ... (Kelly) wanted me to change my hair, so I'd look different that way. But I decided I'd just change everything and just do everything completely different than I've ever done. And he liked it. ... My (character is) just dead inside.
"Dwayne plays an action movie star who has amnesia. Seann William Scott plays this policeman who isn't really sure what's going on. And Sarah Michelle Gellar is a porn star trying to get a reality show. But it's about more than that. It's also about the environment and the water and energy running out. Everything comes to a head. ... (My role) is a little more than (a cameo), but not much more. (Laughs)
Reach Derek Paiva at firstname.lastname@example.org.